Gretchen’s interviews include NPR, BBC and international radio programs for Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
Stay tuned ~ upcoming events include the University of Arizona Museum of Art, University of Utah's Tanner Humanities Center, Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, Poetry Center, & more!
Environmental Writing as Embodied Research. Global Humanities Institute / Consortium for Humanities Centers and Institutes, Climate Justice and Problems of Scale, University of Pretoria, 03 August 2022.
Am I on Mars or Great Salt Lake? Salty Science Series with Great Salt Lake Institute, 28 January 2021.
Headwaters. Voices of the Centennials for Wild Idaho! Podcast | Idaho Conservation League, February 2021.
Blueprint for Living on Australian National Radio (interview with Jonathan Green), 30 November 2017.
National Public Radio (interview with Colin McEnroe), 5 January 2016.
Library of Congress, Pulp to Pixels: Artists' Books in the Digital Age, 30 November 2012.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature & the Environment) Spotlight A Sense of Urgency 14 May 2021.
Biodiversity Revisited at Boston University with the Luc Hoffmann Institute, 30 May 2019.
Thinking Aloud on BBC Radio (interview with Laurie Taylor), 18 July 2018.
Sunday Morning on Radio New Zealand (interview with Wallace Chapman), 30 October 2016.
At Night with Dan Riendeau on Calgary Newstalk in Canada (interview with Dan Riendeau), 4 October 2016.
Late Night Live on Australia Radio National (interview with Phillip Adams), 3 August 2016.
To hear/read more interviews with Gretchen, click here.
To download a high-res photograph, click here.
Gretchen's writings have been widely reviewed in a range of publications, including The New Yorker, The Guardian, TLS, Literary Review, TIME Magazine, Maclean's, CAA Reviews, Choice, History Today, Pop Matters, ARLIS, The Rumpus, Boston Musical Intelligencer, El País, El Razón, El Diario, and many more. Her work also has been noted online by the UK Tate Museums, US Library of Congress, Visual Essays and Essay Daily, among other media outlets.
“Beauty and Ugliness,” Girlboss (interview by Jerico Mandybur), 14 March 2019.
“In some ways, it is remarkable how far we’ve come—and equally remarkable how far we have to go,” says Henderson. “It’s important to always be on the lookout for not only who is valued but who is becoming vulnerable in the eye of the beholder.” And as for Henderson’s advice on making sure we remain on the upswing of progress when it comes to the power and privilege…? “Be yourself while giving others the space to do the same. Set up spaces for dialogue around differences,” suggests Henderson. “Ask questions. Cultivate spaces to listen.”
“Dinámica de lo feo,” Diario de Sevilla (by Manuel Gregorio González), 13 January 2019.
“El inevitable encanto de la fealdad,” ABC España (by Bruno Pardo Porto), 08 January 2019. (01/08/2019)
“Zenda recomienda: Fealdad, de Gretchen E. Henderson,” Zenda, 08 January 2019.
“¿Gana lo feo?” El País (by Andrea Aguilar), 11 November 2018.
“Somos feos, somos humanos,” La Razón (by Diego Gándara), 08 November 2018.
“La cara B de la cultura es tan fea como la pintan,” El Diario (by José Antonio Luna), 07 November 2018.
“Beauty-Ugliness,” on BBC Radio (interview with Laurie Taylor), 18 July 2018.
“Ugly Fashion,” Blueprint for Living on ABC/Australian National Radio (interview with Jonathan Green), 30 November 2017.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” CAA.Reviews (review by Agata A. Gomółka), 31 May 2017.
Henderson’s approach is generous and inclusive. She makes good use of data from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, gender studies, philosophy, literature, history, and art history…Ugliness: A Cultural History is a highly readable, erudite, and compelling account that opens up many avenues for further consideration of its topic.
“Why We Chose It,” The Kenyon Review (review on “A Philosophy of Stones” by Natalie Shapero), 8 May 2017.
When we choose pieces for KR [Kenyon Review], we sometimes look for writing that asks us to imagine, as one entity, a set of disparate objects or occurrences that have not been previously yoked together in any kind of formal way. Out of this collecting and refining comes something that means something new. This is certainly the case with “A Philosophy of Stones,” Gretchen E. Henderson’s beautiful and wide-ranging essay…
“Artist Feature: Giving of Oneself: An Interview with Gretchen E. Henderson,” Phoenix Rising Collective (interview with Traci Curri), 2 November 2016.
There are some people in this world who force you to ponder your existence. Their mere presence requires you to think about purpose and the intimate details of your life. I met one of those people during summer 2015, when I attended a Kenyon Review workshop in Gambier, Ohio. One of the co-instructors, Gretchen E. Henderson, lit up the room with her attentive heart, her vigorous spirit, and her compassion.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Sunday Morning on Radio New Zealand (interview with Wallace Chapman), 30 October 2016.
“A History of Ugly,” At Night with Dan Riendeau on Calgary Newstalk in Canada (interview with Dan Riendeau), 4 October 2016.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Late Night Live on Australia Radio National (interview with Phillip Adams), 3 August 2016.
Dear Listener, I urge you to rush out and get Gretchen Henderson’s beautiful book on ugliness–Ugliness: A Cultural History.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Choice (review by J. M. Carvalho), August 2016.
Henderson has written a multifarious book about ugliness, exploring the subject in its multiple forms … Engagingly written and copiously illustrated.
“Hot summer reads on the good and the bad of ugly (ideas),” Toronto Star (chosen by Sarah Murdoch), 31 July 2016.
“Operatic Opus,” C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College (feature story by Meghan Livie), 22 July 2016.
The blurred lines between past and present, fact and fiction, and between the protagonist and her manuscript, call attention to what Henderson calls the “book as body,” a reoccurring theme throughout Crafting the Bonds.
“Ugliness, in the Cry of the Beholder,” Cover Story for the Times Literary Supplement (review by Ian Ground), 1 July 2016.
Gretchen Henderson’s cultural history of ugliness skates, at an entertainingly high speed, across large swathes of territory, cultural, historical and biological, always fascinating…[I]t is certainly refreshing to have so many actual examples…[T]he existence and resistance of the ugly is a reminder – urgent and intense and necessary – that the world does not exist for us alone.
“Simply Hideous,” Literary Review (review by Alberto Manguel), April 2016.
Ugliness: A Cultural History is a provocative book because, while exploring our relationship to that which we brand as ugly (or beautiful), Gretchen Henderson forces us to reflect on our tastes and fears, our social conventions and our everyday notions of justice. Such a call to attention is always very useful; in our prejudiced age it has become essential.
“Review of Ugliness: A Cultural History,” History Today (review by Catherine Berger), April 2016.
Gretchen E. Henderson approaches her topic through an impressive number of examples, spanning disciplines, mediums, usages, geographies and chronologies and including works of fine and popular art, architecture, mythology, cultural moments, historical facts and human individuals and groups…The focus on the body also means that Henderson includes how ugliness manifests itself in the body of the perceiving subject: in all its senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and the ‘sixth sense’ of the mind and interpretation. As a result the author manages to take the discussion of ugliness into its own territory, beyond a mere opposition to beauty. This book provides an engaging and accessible cultural history that is informative and entices the reader to see things in a different perspective.
“Review of Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Art Libraries Society of North America (review by Amanda Woodward), March 2016.
Henderson’s multidisciplinary approach to the topic makes the book a valuable resource for scholars throughout the arts and humanities. This would also be a useful text for freshman seminars because the writing style fosters discussion and critical thinking. Overall, the book is a highly recommended addition to academic and art libraries.
“When Things Get Ugly,” Pop Matters (review by Sara Rodriguez), 26 January 2016.
Engaging ugliness beyond the realm of art and aesthetics and into the realm of sound, sight, and embodiment, Ugliness: A Cultural History makes a valuable contribution to the contemporary study of ugliness and its myriad functions in Western culture. Henderson traces how ugliness moves “beyond ‘ugly’ anomalous individuals and resistant ugly groups to break down borders through ‘ugly’ senses that place all human beings into an equal camp”.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” The Rumpus (by Zakiya Harris), 14 January 2016.
Henderson leaves no sense of the word unexamined as she closely observes various cases of ugliness, wandering through centuries with a keen eye, nose, ear, and mouth…Henderson defends her analysis of ugliness beautifully, using poetic language that reads less like an art history textbook and more like philosophical musings.
“The Truth about Ugliness (It Ain’t Pretty),” National Public Radio (interview with Colin McEnroe), 5 January 2016.
“The Power of Human Ingenuity, and Other News,” The Paris Review (by Dan Piepenbring), 18 December 2015.
“The Ugly Truth,” The New Yorker (review by Vinson Cunningham), 15 December 2015.
In her wide-ranging and frequently illuminating study, “Ugliness: A Cultural History,” published this month, Gretchen Henderson traces the connections—some obvious, but many not at all—between aesthetic norms and cultural anxieties, from antiquity to the present day… Henderson artfully links the Polyphemus myth to the “hierarchy of species” found in Aristotle’s “Generation of Animals.” Aristotle’s “downhill slope” is topped by men, followed by women, then devolves into “hybrid offspring” like satyrs and fauns. This motion, from powerful to exoticized, illustrates the trick—later employed at the height of phrenological and eugenic crazes—of forcing the worth, and, ultimately, the humanity, of certain individuals to correspond with often arbitrary aesthetic categories…In a particularly exciting section of “Ugliness,” on “ugly sound,” Henderson excavates the self-contradictory but undeniable fact that aesthetic advances—discoveries of new species of beauty—have often been spurred on by ugliness…Beauty does more than simply seduce: it masks and perfumes, freezes moral categories in place. Ugliness—with all its seams unconcealed—is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.
“U-G-L-Y, You Now Have an Alibi,” Maclean’s Magazine, Canada (review by Brett Josef Grubisic), 22 November 2015.
We tend to use the word confidently, as though ugliness has a self-evident and unchanging meaning. In fact, Henderson writes, the ‘shape-shifting’ term has a long, strange, and ‘unruly history.’ Breaking her lively study into sections ––‘ugly ones,’ ‘ugly groups,’ ‘ugly senses’–she touches on an impressive assortment of cultural eras in order to form a rather, well, unbecoming picture of human fears, anxieties and prejudices . . . through this well-illustrated study, she makes a terrific case for how we’ve regulated the borders of acceptability and mistreated whatever crosses the line.
“Interview with Georgetown University Forum,” Office of Scholarly Publications, Georgetown University (interview with Carole Sargent, Director), video snippet posted 20 November 2015.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” TIME Magazine (review by Lily Rothman), 12 November 2015.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is ugliness. For proof, look no further than the concept’s own history, most recently traced by Gretchen E. Henderson. . . . ‘Rather than mere binaries,’ Henderson writes, ‘ugliness and beauty seem to function more like binary stars.’ They orbit and attract each other, and we can admire both.”
“Taking on Ruehr’s Cassandra,” Boston Musical Intelligencer (Liane Curtis), 2015 November 12.
The poetry is sometimes ethereal and abstract, often profound…Henderson’s libretto itself, with its visual aspects of poésie concrète, already offers a multi-media experience.
“Cappella Clausura to Perform in Boston and Newton,” The Enterprise (Keith Powers), 2015 November 10.
“The part that really strikes me is the fabulous libretto that Gretchen has written, making the story contemporary,” [conductor Amelia LeClair] says. “How she points out that we’re warning about climate change, and we’re not listening at all. That makes it a timely opera, not just a re-creation of some ancient Agamemnon story.”
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” The Green Room (interview with Orla Barry for Irish National Radio), 9 November 2015.
“The Opposite of Ugly,” Design Observer (includes mention of Ugliness by Jessica Helfant and Michael Bierut, 19:15 to end), 23 October 2015.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History,” Newstalk (interview with Sean Moncrieff for Irish National Radio), 16 October 2015.
“Ugliness: A Cultural History – a Review,” The Guardian (review by Kathryn Hughes), 7 October 2015.
This is a fascinating meditation on a slippery subject . . . even such a relatively capacious definition won’t do for Gretchen Henderson, the author of this absorbing “cultural history” of ugliness . . . This is all kinds of clever . . . enjoy Henderson’s wide-ranging field of reference . . . It is the cultural studies equivalent of kissing a frog.
“Ugliness,” The Body Sphere (interview with Amanda Smith for ABC Radio in Australia), broadcast 26 September 2015, and “A History of Ugliness,” 30 September 2015.
“Can Poetry Survive in the Wild? Encouraging Random Encounters with Art,” LitHub (feature includes my Broadsided poetry collaboration with artist Elizabeth Terhune), 28 July 21015.
“Passports and Layovers from Lorelei and Roomful of Teeth,” New Music Box (review of Cassandra in the Temples by Matthew Guerrieri), 5 December 2014.
“Complex Portraiture, Fragmented Yet with Teeth,” Boston Musical Intelligencer (review of Cassandra in the Temples by Sudeep Agarwala), 24 November 2014.
The opera is a fruitful collaboration with Gretchen Henderson, whose 13-part libretto takes place in the head of Cassandra as she remembers her curse and prophesies her demise. The text is as much poetry as artwork: the libretto at times taking the form of prose, at others defiantly stylized. One poem is a serpentine extension of the word no; another elegantly drapes itself around two intersecting columnar lines. Still further is the poetry shrouded in an oracular aura of ambiguity, shattering dialogue and interchanging speakers. Voices rarely arise individually to provide meaning, and Ruehr’s text settings were equally fragmented, altogether not unlike the worm-eaten papyri that are our sources. Ruehr’s setting for a cappella ensemble meets the substantial challenges of the libretto with a highly stylized minimalist language that imbues each scene with distinct character, as if in imitation of the theater masks employed in ancient Greek theater. Although there are moments where individuals are heard above dense vocal texture, creation of character and narration alike is largely motivated by combinations of voices and vocal effects ... The dramatic structure of the work, from the approach to Cassandra’s temple to a procession away from the tomb that lies beneath, illustrated by splintered text and fractured sound of tragic madness, makes for a strikingly effective experience.
“Visual Essays,” Essay Daily (interview with Sarah Minor), 17 November 2014.
“Classical Notes,” The Boston Globe (article by David Weininger on composer Elena Ruehr’s upcoming premiers, including our collaboration on the opera Cassandra in the Temples), 6 November 2014.
“Sounds,” The Artery (article by Keith Powers on composer Elena Ruehr’s upcoming premiers, including our collaboration on the opera Cassandra in the Temples), 5 November 2014.
“Interview with Gretchen Henderson,” Monkeybicycle (interview with Edward Rathke), November 2013.
“People of the Book,” Ploughshares (curated interview series), 2013-14.
“On Experimental Writing,” The Literary Map (article by Ted Pelton, referencing The House Enters the Street), Fall 2013.
Gretchen Henderson’s The House Enters the Street is a novel comprised of discontinuous stories, including the saga of several generations of an Iowa family whose progenitors emigrated from Sweden, and a California mother and daughter who attempt to move on from the effects of a devastating house fire. But the novel itself is also a house, and the house is that of modernist Umberto Boccioni’s futurist painting “The Street Enters the House,” where activities and characters enter and exit until there is no distinguishing what is inside or outside, or for that matter, whether a meaning has been constructed by art or literature or music or all three at once. The novel moves back and between plots, arts, and approaches.
“Potential Publication; or, A Brief History of Lost and Found Time,” Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (invited post on “publication”), November 2013.
“Transforming Artist Books: Future Visions and Versions of the Codex,” Tate Museums UK (article by Johanna Drucker, referencing Galerie de Difformité), August 2013.
Gretchen Henderson and other experimental writers; in particular, the play with the condition of bounded-ness. By this I mean discursive delimitation and definition. The finitude of a bound codex quite literally defines its limits in analogue form. Even though the reference field of the work is broad, gesturing outward to the world of lived and imagined phenomena that comprise a shared realm of cultural knowledge, the book’s dimensions remain linked to its physical form. But where is such a book located in the spatial-temporal realms of networked environments? And when is a work produced? Henderson’s book-gallery project Galerie de Deformité 2011 invites participation by a wide number of contributors and users ... The capacity to conjure stored material that projects itself in augmented screens onto the perceived world further erodes the boundaries of interior/exterior edge and periphery that were traditionally defining features of an aesthetic work. In a curious inversion of the nineteenth-century French writer Stéphane Mallarmé’s dictum, it results that a book exists to be a projection onto the entirety of the world, not merely to take the world into itself as a representation.
“The Gretchen E. Henderson Experience,” The Saturday Morning Post (by Joe Ponepinto), April 2013.
“A Quest of Questions,” The Delphi Quarterly (interview with Joe Ponepinto), April 2013.
“Living Words,” Fourteen Hills (interview with Kendra Schynert), March 2013.
“The Perfect and The Imperfect,” Gently Read Literature (review essay on The House Enters the Street, by Glenda Burgess), 2013.
A book of nested stories that interleaf to form a fantastic and colorful narrative with all the musicality of a tightly woven a cappella. I am very impressed with Gretchen Henderson’s imaginative voice and sense of the single detail that lingers in your thoughts in this story of loss and adaptation over several generations. A haunting stroke of originality.
“You Can’t Step into the Same River Even the First Time,” Toad Suck Review (review essay on the Galerie de Difformité, by Skip Fox), 2013.
As [Julio Cortázar‘s] Hopscotch was for me the epitome of experimental narrative “order” some forty-five years ago, so Gretchen E. Henderson’s Galerie de Difformité & Other Exhumed Exhibits: A Declassified Catalogue has now become the paragon of experimental postmodern texts. It employs an amazing number and variety of reestablished and innovative techniques focused not simply on the book’s structure (the text even leaves the page as it calls for its own dismemberment, destruction, desecration, radical extension, etc.), but even disrupts the notion of a passive readerly text while qualifying that of the presumptive author’s presumptive authority. The most discernable and basic structural technique, in fact, explicitly disallows a straightforward reading of this gallery, giving instead a set of alternate choices for continuance at each section’s end, generally. But beyond Galerie‘s dazzle and display, tight-wire plunges and vertigo recoveries, like Cortázar’s, Henderson’s text is subtly varied and extraordinarily well written.
“This Baggy Monster,” Kenyon Review Online (review Galerie de Difformité, by John Brown Spiers), winter 2013.
“Book Review: The House Enters the Street,” Wordgathering (by Michael Northern), December 2012.
Any way one looks at it, Galerie de Difformité is a prodigious undertaking… It takes the metaphor of the novel as a “baggy monster” to a whole new level… The emerging field of disability literature is not only about recording personal experiences of disability through memoir and poetry or even countering negative or paternalistic images of disability that have persisted in literature since the beginning of written language, it is also about using language and perceptions culled from the disability experience to create new forms. In that regard, Gretchen E. Henderson’s Galerie de Difformité makes a real contribution. It provides a seedbed for new ideas of how disability might be thought about and the forms that it might take. Beyond any appeal to the post-modern sensibility, Galerie de Difformité is sheer fun and, addictive, at that. Whatever it is that drove you as a child to want to keep returning to those “create your own adventure” stories is going to grab you here as well, but on a deeper and much more multi-layered level.
“Pulp to Pixels: Artists Books in the Digital Age,” Library of Congress blog (exhibit review that includes Galerie de Difformité, by Jimi Jones), 30 November 2012.
Gretchen Henderson, who gave the keynote speech at the exhibit’s reception, created the impressive Galerie de Difformité. This crowdsourced book and website invites “subscribers” to take images from the different exhibits on the website and manipulate (deform) them in some way. Subscribers are invited to then send the images in for inclusion on the site. The book and site thereby become a gallery – a wunderkammer – displaying these deformed, reformed, manipulated and repurposed objects. With Henderson’s work the Internet becomes a conduit, allowing subscribers to take part in a growing, changing, ongoing performative work.
“The One Who’s Going Home,” The Collagist (interview with Joseph Scapellato), 30 October 2012.
“Book Review: The House Enters the Street,” Necessary Fiction (review by Jess Stoner), 29 October 2012.
The genre distinction brouhaha has nothing on the non-existent battle over the Library of Congress’ list of relevant subject categories a book supposedly addresses. The “free floating divisions” end up distilling a book into its most simplified dregs, especially a book like Henderson’s, which might require the invention of new headings: Barns as Ships to Sail Inland Seas, Stories as Grafts, Mark Z. Danielewski but Not, Sense of Touch and Missing Hands, and Synesthetic Triumph. But in the spirit of cooperation, out of respect for the system, which in its reduction means that someone searching for a certain heading might come up with a few surprises every now and then, I’ll do my best to work within some of those originally listed, with a few additions for good measure.)…It is so rare for me to be so moved by a novel that I am rendered incapable of explaining the simplest thing: like how it works.
“Book Review: The House Enters the Street,” Monkeybicycle (review by Joe Ponepinto), 7 October 2012.
“A Monumental Fusion of the Arts,” Literary Aficionado (review of The House Enters the Street by Grady Harp), 4 September 2012.
Gretchen E. Henderson is a staggeringly gifted writer/thinker/visionary/healer and poet and so many other descriptors that escape the mind. What she has created in this at once turgid and delicately airborne novel defies organized plaudits. She simply has accomplished that sort of magic that comes along so rarely that when it happens it needs to be nurtured by a patient, receptive audience. It grows and transforms the spirit like few other works of written art can match. Perhaps knowing a bit about Henderson will add to the credibility of the kudos that are bound to be heaped on this novel. She has exposed her mind, and processed information from, to the apparently disparate fields of literature, art history, music, museum studies, disability studies, visual art in all its forms, and somehow she manages to stir these components together and create not a book but an experience about people and how they perceive life and projected fantasy. The name of her book, THE HOUSE ENTERS THE STREET, in many ways sets the tone of the novel. It is a play on words of a 1911 painting by Italian futurist painter Umberto Boccioni – LA STRADA ENTRA NELLA CASA, or THE STREET ENTERS THE HOUSE, `a painting that centers around a woman on a balcony in front of a busy street, with the sounds of the activity below portrayed as a riot of shapes and colors. It presents a comprehensive synthesis of all the impressions the woman who is at the center of the painting can experience when looking out her window, including not only the buildings she sees in front of her, but also those she knows to be beside and behind her.’ The painting is reproduced on the book’s cover. This chaotic explosion of color and activity mirrors the process in which this book is written – art mirrors life/life mirrors art. There are several stories that dance through the pages of Henderson’s book. A woman named Avra is disabled from a tragic fire that left her with a near useless hand. Gradually we meet her grandmother and follow this relationship through transformations while at the same time we learn of a Midwestern lad Faar who goes from Scandinavia to marry Mor and together they birth triplets Eva, Una and Holde but Holde dies and the triplets become twins and that event begins a journey through time and immigration and morphing that introduces all manner of the permutations of change. `New sights were like that. They introduced contrasts and definitions. They distinguished wonders: awe from horror, grief from joy.’ At first the reader may struggle with the non-linear aspect of the story lines but that seems to be the intention of the author. Life as influenced by visuals, music, walking through museums, plays, flights of words that spin illusions away from reality but in essence describe it more completely – this seems to be Henderson’s goal. Once each of the characters we meet in this series of interweaving stories comes into focus, that is when Henderson jumps up with word play that is devastatingly beautiful. Example: `She’s going home. Not straight away, crow dart-of-a-black-arrow going home, but a curvaceous loopy, roundabout, colorful waving (good-bye, hello, good-) course of going home, not by plane, train, coach or car, but by foot through labyrinthine halls and echoing galleries, where marble athletes lack legs, hands, noses (breathing); floor-to-ceiling canvases, blue nudes & strung guitars, head-dressed gazelles with locked horns, bearded earflaps, iron mudfish in pendant masks (breathing). Like a whorled conch, murmuring: voyeurs whisper, stare and bend to listen (knees crack, she hears, shuffling and Look!) to incisions and scars – what doesn’t speak is broken (between each line & curve) echoes:’ This is the magic of THE HOUSE ENTERS THE STREET – the language and the way it is shaped and molded and caressed and blocked and offered at times in direct relating of interesting tales and at other times acting like a jazz riff or an extemporaneous series of variations on a theme. Henderson requires much of her reader, but the investment is edifying and begs for re-entry time and again to gain more from the experience. A stunning achievement.
Additional reviews of The House Enters the Street:
THE HOUSE ENTERS THE STREET is beautifully written, confident and complex. I was appreciative of its language and intelligence, mindfulness and scope. ~ Rikki Ducornet, author of Netsuke and The Fan Maker’s Inquisition
A startling and lovely configuration of stories, endlessly echoing and reverberating, haunted and haunting. Gretchen E. Henderson creates a sublime and mysterious music all her own. ~ Carole Maso, author of AVA and The Art Lover
Intricate and complex, but never confusing, this dazzling novel is as eloquent as it is original. As if content and form were singing in rounds, Gretchen E. Henderson’s vibrant characters—their voices and their stories—emerge with careful intent and true beauty to achieve what reads as almost miraculous. ~ Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment and The Scenic Route
A demanding and beautiful book, which tracks an exacting landscape with breathtaking inventiveness. ~ Mary Gordon, author of Pearl and The Love of My Youth
A work of strong formal appetites, great beauty, and intuitive evocations of feeling. Gretchen E. Henderson writes in a language totally her own. ~ Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet and Notable American Women
…a frenetic “love story” that sound[s] more like every beautiful idea that could be thought of while walking through a city street on childhood, philosophy, history, and yes, love. ~ Stephen Thomas, writing for The Millions
Henderson is a genius. This book defies category, bursts boundaries, creates universes. What I liked best? Some works of genius leave me cold although intellectually stimulated. Henderson’s endlessly creative work soars with humanity at the same time that it excites the intellect. ~ review by Amazon's AvidReader
Additional reviews of Galerie de Difformité:
What a work! This complex, mutable, shifting text is criss-crossed with self-referentiality and acts of deformance. Gretchen E. Henderson’s graphical imagination turns original work into found work and pastiche into performance on the page. The “book” explodes across distributed platforms and media, with a digitally networked existence that simultaneously builds on and destroys the integrity of the print object. Henderson’s Galerie is at once the quintessential meta-book and the radical un-making-of-the-book, a fascinating romp and an engaging reflection on how we make what we read in the current environment. ~Johanna Drucker, author of The Century of Artists’ Books and The Alphabetic Labyrinth
Galerie de Difformité is a cabinet of curiosities of things deformed, disabled, reformed and enabled. A choose-your-own adventure that advises and counsels the reader how to change the work itself. Deformity becomes a modality of exploring the literary, the body, and the cultural through various lenses of historical periods and ideologies in which, for example, Dante’s Beatrice metonymically becomes the inspiration for writing ugliness in a series of displacements —a stolen part of remains is turned into a pen which then travels through history to inscribe various kinds of deformity. A book that combines the metacriticism of Tristram Shandy with the randomness of a complex video game, Henderson has created a unique work that aims at being extraordinary, arcane, and eminently accessible. A book you won’t forget. ~Lennard J. Davis, author of Enforcing Normalcy and Bending Over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult Positions
A totally enjoyable book! While the Galerie de Difformité speaks for itself, it does so in a raucous chorus—each page a patchwork of questions, prompts, ventriloquisms, and extra matter—the sum of which is uncountable—an ongoing challenge to the finality and good hygiene of the book. I love the messiness in Gretchen E. Henderson’s invitation to visit her, and any number of other ghosts, online, in galleries, and on the page. Got something to derange? Any miserliness a reader feels quickly mutates into an abundance of play. ~Thalia Field, author of ULULU (Clown Shrapnel) and Incarnate: Story Material
At this time of high anxiety about the future of the book—and consequently of reading—some innovative artists and publishers have been looking to the history of that seemingly imperiled object for inspiration in charting its future, a future that, fortunately, remains bright, my friends, brighter even than your new iPad’s backlit screen. Gretchen Henderson’s work reminds us that the history of the printed book, like the histories, or rather histoires, of exploration that emerged all around it, histoires of journeying and discovery, of first meetings and paradigm-shifting innovations, of the revolutionary development of a Republic of Letters, of the cross-pollination of cultures and ideas, and all the questions about who we think we are that attend these, begins not with mass-market bestsellers, rolling off an industrial press, but with handmade, irascible, and novel volumes, filled, like the first museums, with wonders and singularities. Already you may be thinking that this collective collection of histories is not nearly past, but rather that it sounds something like our World Wide Web-based, contemporary technological moment, that disembodied, all-seeing, always on, digital future with which we are intimately already engaged, right now, that Next that is both constructed by and revealed to us with every text, every tweet, every post, every tweak of our increasingly shared digital life. “What’s on your mind?” Maybe better to ask, “Who are we now?” which is precisely what Galerie de Difformité is doing. A novel, an essay, a sequence of poems, a museum catalog, a website, a physical and conceptual space, a cross-genre, cross-platform, neverending, ever-opening inquiry into the natures of deformity: Gretchen Henderson’s remarkable and uncontainable Galerie is all of these things and much, much more. It is, in fact, whatever you, reader, collaborator, subscriber, want it to be. It is, that is, what you, quite literally, will make it. Galerie de Difformité, that is, is the idea of a book as a reflection of its reader, a reflection of its reading, of reading, as much as writing, as a unique and widening network of cultural production and reproduction that, like meaning, reflects us back to ourselves, reflects to us our assumptions, not just about books, but about their content, about us, about each other, individually and socially, and how—like our bodies, like our books and our buildings, like all our technologies—our seemingly stable certainties, are, rather, constantly changing over time, making the once beautiful, for a time, ugly, and revealing that the varied processes of deformity are the true sublime. ~ Michael Mejia, author of Forgetfulness: A Novel
Cross the form of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book with fragmented, cut-up, torn-up, stretched, and unconventionally printed text. Skip the “of” of an English title and give it a French name, using the “de” form. Bend book into blog. Deformity here includes transgressing the boundaries of authorship and inviting “user-generated” fascicles. Work the book’s text into something despicable or respectable: Fill out the form. Click to put Ye Ugly Face on Facebook. The story’s play of conspiracies and resurrections resonate with the transformations of the reading process that book and reader enact. Further, the exercises in textual topology – and lettered exhibits calling for further deformation – show that remixing is not just for one-note works such as Dramatic Chipmunk. The book, and indeed this thoughtfully developed artist’s book, can also serve as seed for elaborate transformation and convolution. ~ Nick Montfort, President of the Electronic Literature Organization
“Deforming Forms with Gretchen E. Henderson,” Bad at Sports: Contemporary Art Talk (interview with Caroline Picard), 21 March 2012.
“Caution! Do not read Galerie de Difformité (or this recommendation) straight from start to finish!“, The Lit Pub (review by Angie Spoto), 10 February 2012.
“To Tailor This Book Around a Budding Body,” The Collagist (interview with Joseph Scapellato), 22 January 2012.
“Radical Books of 2011,” Post Position (review of Galerie de Difformité by Nick Montfort), 6 January 2012.
“Telling It Slant,” Genesis (profile by Paul Totah), 1 January 2012.
Selected for “Nobbie Best Books of 2011,” The Nervous Breakdown (by Brad Listi), 5 December 2011.
“Kenyon Review Reading Recommendations” (Galerie de Difformité recommended by Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky), 1 December 2011.
“Book Review of Galerie de Difformité,” Wordgathering (review by Michael Northern), 1 December 2011.
“We Are Already There,” HTML Giant (review of On Marvellous Things Heard, by August Evans), 10 November 2011.
“Book Review of On Marvellous Things Heard,” Another Chicago Magazine (review by Mairead Case), 20 September 2011.
“On Marvellous Things Heard,” Small Press Review (review by Marc Schuster), 3 September 2011.
“Generating Genres,” The Kenyon Review blog (interview as craft talk), 7 July 2010.
“Galerie de Difformité,” We Are Homer (interview by Traci Brimhall), 25 April 2010.
“Tea with the Undertaker,” The Stentor (profile by Irene Ruiz Dacal and Madeeha Khan), 26 February 2010.
“Questions of Collaboration,” Broadsided Press (interviewed by Elizabeth Bradfield, with artist Elizabeth Terhune), 1 December 2009.
Some sample book reviews that I have written include “Remixing Antarctica” (American Book Review), “The Empire Strikes Back: App-Lit in Brief” (LARB), and "Archicembalo" (Tarpaulin Sky).